MINERAL RIDGE, Ohio (WKBN) – If this were a normal Monday, Rich Cornelius would be at a Mineral Ridge baseball or softball game, possibly a track meet, taking pictures and posting them online. Instead, he’s showing up at the homes of graduating seniors and giving them a gift.
On a Thursday evening in Mineral Ridge, Cornelius took porch pictures of graduating seniors Madison Carl and Ty Lukehart, cousins who live next door to each other.
“But this is just capturing a moment that we otherwise wouldn’t have captured had this not happened,” Madison said.
“To have somebody that wants to step forward and do that is so heartwarming,” said Molly Lukehart, Ty’s mother.
Cornelius usually takes pictures of Mineral Ridge sporting events for free.
“My son, when he was still in high school, he was running track and cross country and I actually started doing this to get out of concession stand duty,” Cornelius said.
When the coronavirus hit, his senior picture assistant Cris Cole had an idea.
“I saw some stories on Facebook of some photographers around the country. They were doing it and I texted Rich and said, ‘Isn’t this a real cool idea?'” Cole said.
“We had one or two get back to us and then the next thing I know it’s seven in one day. Saturday we’re doing 13,” Cornelius said.
Madison and Ty share a grandmother, who was part of the pictures, too. Madison’s father, Joseph Carl, knows how something even as simple as this can be so special, especially in a year like this.
“I had my daughter with me one day as I’m going out to work and she was kind of quiet and I go, ‘What’s bothering you, Madison?’ And she just looked over to me and started to cry and says, ‘Dad, this is supposed to be the highlight of my life,'” Joseph said.
But now that the reality has settled in, she’s looking at the situation differently.
“I think it’s definitely something that’s going to be unforgettable, something that will really define the class of 2020,” Madison said.
“Something that I’ll be able to tell my kids and hopefully my grandkids one day because this is something that nobody in this area’s ever going to forget,” Ty said.
And because of people like Cornelius, the pictures are memories that will live forever.